The European Journal of Development Research

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 1107–1125 | Cite as

Local Ownership as Global Governance

  • Jon Harald Sande LieEmail author
Original Article


The ownership discourse has profoundly altered the management of development aid. Nominally, it seeks to instil greater freedom as well as responsibilities among aid recipients. Revisiting two ethnographic studies (the World Bank–Uganda partnership and NGO relations in Ethiopia), this article shows how ‘ownership’ practices also involve new forms of tacit governance mechanisms that enable the donor to retain control. By using ‘freedom’ as a formula underpinning governance at a distance, developmentality is made contingent on the donor’s ability to frame the partnership and the conditions under which the recipient exercises the freedom that has been granted.


Developmentality Ethiopia Governance Ownership Partnership Uganda World Bank 


Le débat à propos de la propriété de l’aide développementale a profondément altéré la gestion de cette aide. Normalement, ce discours vise à susciter plus de liberté, aussi que plus de responsabilité, entre les récipiendaires d’aide. Dans cet article, on revient sur deux études ethnographiques (le partenariat entre la Banque Mondiale et l’Uganda, et les relations des ONGs en Ethiopie), et on montre comment les pratiques de « propriété » utilisent aussi des nouvelles formes de mécaniques tacites de gouvernance, qui permettent aux donneurs de maintenir le contrôle. En utilisant la « liberté » comme une formule qui garantit la gouvernance même à distance, la « dévelopmentalité » (en anglais : developmentality) est donc subordonnée à la capacité des donneurs à encadrer le partenariat avec les récipiendaires, et aussi les conditions dans lesquels le récipiendaire exerce la liberté qui leur a été accordé.



This research has been undertaken as part of the project ‘Developmentality and the anthropology of partnership’, funded by the Research Council of Norway (Grant No. 262524).


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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI)OsloNorway

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